Steve Coogan & Rob Brydon return (again) to playing loose versions of themselves, and continue to attempt to out-joke, out-impression and generally needle each other at every opportunity, while eating a lot of lovely food in interesting restaurants.
For once again the story is built around a gastronomical tour - this time (as the title would suggest) in the land of Cervantes, who is referenced throughout. With that very much in mind, the idea of the double act looms large and the inevitable comparisons (Quixotic Coogan, Sancho Brydon) work a treat.
For the most part, this third installment plays the hits – and for fans of the series, that would be plenty; dueling impressions (Caine, Brando, Pacino, Moore, Hopkins and other favourites all get another run, while Hurt, Bowie and Jagger are added to the repertoire), the “Guess The Bill” game, and of course the relentless banter and jousting for attention amongst cultural relics. If you’re in the pair’s groove (and by third go around, you really ought to be), this is some of the best comedy you’ll see all year - not only to laugh at, but to examine in constructive terms, see: Brydon going from funny, through cringe, and back into funny with an excruciatingly prolonged, hilarious Roger Moore bit.
On this occasion however, there’s an attempt to push the narrative further than before – and it’s not that it doesn’t work structurally, but it’s perhaps a bridge too far; for the first time the plot begins to feel like an obvious device. Maybe this deviation from formula will pay off for the series in the long run, but it leaves the pair’s latest expedition on a somewhat jarring, curious, note. But while it’s undoubtedly a snare, overall it can’t derail an otherwise lusciously shot, delightfully ambling, and hilarious third outing.
THE TRIP TO SPAIN is released August 3 in Australia, August 11 in the US and August 17 in NZ.